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Faculty & Research


Fast or Slow? Competing on Publication Frequency

Journal Article
Problem definition: for many information goods, longer publication cycles (or batches of information) are more economical, but often result in less timely - and, therefore, less valuable - information. Whereas the digitalization of publication processes has reduced fixed publication costs, making shorter publication cycles more economically viable, competing firms have adapted their publication cycles differently: some of them publish more frequently, whereas others publish less frequently. In the face of growing competition and digitalization, how should information providers change their publication frequency strategies? Methodology/results: in this paper, the authors build a game-theoretic model to determine how information providers should set their publication cycles and prices in a duopoly. The authors find that, compared with a monopolistic environment, competition gives rise to differentiation by cycles and expands product variety. Specifically, competing firms should seek to differentiate on their publication frequency when the fixed publication is high and their contents share a high degree of commonality, but not otherwise. Whereas a reduction in the fixed cost of publication tends to yield shorter publication cycles, it could also intensify the competitive dynamics, leading firms to further differentiate their publication cycles, hurting consumer surplus. However, this could be temporary, as firms may ultimately converge in their choices of publication cycles. Managerial implications: the digitalization of publication processes is disrupting many information provision industries (e.g., news, weather, financial). The authors show that competing firms should anticipate nonmonotone or abrupt changes in their publication strategy as their publication processes get digitalized and may actually be hurt - as well as consumers - in the process of digitalization.

Professor of Technology and Operations Management